Microsoft will release Forza Horizon, a new take on the Forza universe developed by UK studio Playground, this year.
Microsoft is to release the next Forza game, Forza Horizon, at the end of 2012, the company has confirmed. The game is being created by a second team to Turn 10, British studio Playground games, and appears to be more "lifestyle" in nature to the more straight-laced simulation for which the series is best known.
Microsoft showed off a first teaser trailer of Horizon at its Spring Showcase event in San Francisco this week, pitching the game against dance music, women in bikinis and neon lights. The footage has already been leaked.
VG247 has been told the game is a free-roaming affair along the lines of Test Drive: Unlimited, but Turn 10 dev head Dan Greenawalt, speaking after the movie was shown for the first time, refused to be drawn on specifics.
"It's a tonal video, and it's going to be creating speculation. Honestly, we didn't come to this event to announce what Horizon is; we came to announce that Horizon is, that there is a Forza coming in 2012 and it's being developed by Playground Games, who has tremendous pedigree."
He added: "I know between now and E3 is the zero and the one, here's the start and there's the end, and it's going to increase and increase and increase until then."
The decision to bring in an extra team to provide an "off year" game is normally reserved for the very biggest franchises - such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, but Greenawalt said he isn't phased by the step up.
"I haven't really thought about our standing in that way," he said. "I'm pretty laser-focused on this long-term vision. That's why I'm still excited about coming into work, because I'm thinking about bringing innovation and quality into our game, to reach that bigger goal of actually affecting car culture, actually affecting gamer culture. That's a huge goal. Staying focused on that, it makes it really obvious that having a good strong partner makes sense in achieving that goal. We're stronger as a team.
"Having that capacity, having that creativity and brainpower is just great news. But we've never thought about whether we're big enough or not; it's all about where we want to go and what's the best way to get there. The best way to get there's with partnership, and finding someone we trust to help us out."
Greenawalt said he's excited by Playground's take on Forza, which looks to be a world away from the "car porn" normally provided by Forza games.
"What we wanted was a partner that's helping us develop something that's advancing this overall vision that we have, and we want them to have their own take. We want to have differentiation," he said.
"I'm just really excited to see where it goes. To me it's a win-win. We get the innovation from a really creative group that I respect, and they get our benefit as well; it's just going to make all of our games better."
My other car's a Porsche
While Horizon was the main piece of Forza news to come from the Spring Showcase, Turn 10 also confirmed that the Pirelli Car Pack, the sixth piece of Forza 4's Season Pass DLC, will release on March 6.
Alongside it, the game's third title update will appear, raising the level cap from 150 to a mental 999.
And then in May, Turn 10 is to bring Porsche back to Forza with the Porsche Expansion Pack. It was confirmed in August 2011 that the manufacturer wouldn't make it into the latest version of the game as EA held its rights.
While Greenawalt wouldn't confirm a car list at the Spring Showcase, he did say the new add-on would feature 30 vehicles (seven of which are completely new to the series), 20 new events pulled into World Tour, ten new Achievements and 250 Gamer Score.
"I think the community's going to flip-out," he told VG247. "This is a big deal to us. We love Porsche, and it killed me to announce that Porsche wasn't going to be in Forza 4, but we never walked away from the table, neither did EA and neither did Porsche. Nobody wanted to rob the fans of these great cars.
"Everyone's focused on making great entertainment. We just had to find the right business terms. We reached great terms with them, but then we had to build it. The truth is that we reached terms with them a while ago, but then it takes about six months to build a car."